After yesterday’s ride, we were fatigued and hyped up at the same time and didn’t sleep until 3am. Both of us found Istanbul uncomfortable and stressful for different reasons. For Leo, he had just returned from volunteering for a year in Tonga (a tiny island in the Pacific) and I’ve been leisurely cruising and touring on my bike for the past two months. We both went from a slow paced lifestyle where we knew all the rules and suddenly we were so out of place. Once we were on our bikes, that all changed because we could focus on our tour and leave behind the last three days of worrying and relax a bit.
Instead of cycling 100km to our planned destination in Luleburgaz, we took a bus to the destination afterwards and took an extra rest day. Edirne was the former capital of the Ottoman empire and while it was beautiful, it was completely free of tourists. We cycled from the bus station to our accommodation and were quickly soothed by the amazing structures and friendly faces.
The main street is lined with loads of different fountains and I was hoping to get a photo of both Leo and I with our bikes. However in the corner of my eye, I noticed a suspicious guy eyeballing Leo’s bike. We quickly left and headed to our accommodation before anything happened. For the remainder of the day we rested and had dinner followed by dessert.
The next morning we went to Selimiye Mosque, a world heritagle listed building which opened in 1574. It’s exceptionally difficult to take a complete picture of the whole mosque, and I liked that because I could just remain in awe of its beauty. I spent a lot of time just staring at the ceiling.
Next door there was a museum containing artwork and artefacts from the 16th-18th century, plus a garden to rest in.
Shortly after we went to a hamam, a Turkish bath, and went for the full package. I didn’t know what that meant, so I followed the instructions of the nice lady. I was the only one there (it’s separate for men and women) and it was peaceful to sit in this steamy marble room. I was soaked with luke warm water and left alone for ten minutes. The lady came back, gestured me to get naked and lie on the giant marble slab and I was doused with more water. After nearly a month in Europe, I got over the whole nudity thing pretty quickly so I was quite comfortable.
Then the lady came back with an exfoliating glove and scrubbed me head to toe, then covered me in bubble bath foam and gave me a massage. The icing on the cake was having my hair shampood and a gentle face massage. I don’t think I’ve been cleaner in my entire life. Afterwards we had lunch and a siesta in the garden of our hostel. We had plans to do other things, but it was 36 degrees and we had bike maintenance before our 100km ride tomorrow. Leo’s bike was brand new and ultra shiny, while I hadn’t cleaned mine since Prague, two weeks ago.
Unfortunately we missed out on the town’s annual oil wrestling festival which runs at the start of July. It’s the oldest sports competition in the world and consists of guys wrestling while covered in olive oil. To make up for it we just ate more ice cream and baklava. We certainly needed the rest and did our best to prepare for the next leg of the tour